New LIFE for Welsh Raised Bogs

Raised bogs

Raised bogs get their name because of their domed shape. They are areas of peat that have built up over 12,000 years and can be as deep as 12 metres. They are home to rare plants and animals such as the rosy marsh moth caterpillar and the iconic bog rosemary.

Raised bogs are one of Wales’ rarest and most important habitats and, because of their environmental interest and importance, they are designated Special Areas of Conservation (SACs).

Wales is home to only 50 raised bog sites and these have suffered more habitat loss than any other peatland type and remain under acute pressure. Only seven of the sites in Wales are designated as SAC, and these represent over 10% of the UK SAC resource of raised bogs.

Healthy peatland and raised bogs in good condition absorb carbon from the atmosphere which means they are important in the fight against climate change. If raised bogs are not in good condition they release harmful carbon into the atmosphere.

Seven raised bog sites

The seven sites within the project are:

What we’re doing

The LIFE Welsh Raised Bogs project is the first national restoration programme for raised bogs and for any peatland habitat in Wales.

The 4-year pioneering and ambitious project aims to restore seven of the very best examples of raised bogs in Wales. Almost 4 square miles (over 900 hectares) will be restored to a better condition. This represents 50% of this habitat in Wales and 5% in the UK.

The sites have suffered due to poor wetland management in the past and this has caused invasive plants to take over, and crowd out important plants like sphagnum mosses.

Plants like sphagnum mosses help to keep the peat boggy and wet and store carbon, helping us fight climate change. This project will look at new innovative ways of working to really make a difference and restore the seven raised bog SACs in Wales.

Raised bogs provide multiple benefits to the environment, wildlife, and people. They are home to rare plants and wildlife, they store carbon from the atmosphere, can store and purify water and they also provide a fascinating insight into our environmental history. They are also great places for people to visit and enjoy nature at its best.

Funding totalling £4million for the project has been given to NRW from an EU LIFE programme grant, with support from Welsh Government and Snowdonia National Park Authority.

Restoration work

highlands on cors fochno

In partnership with local communities, landowners and contractors, our work will include improving the conditions of the peatland, removing invasive species and scrub and introducing light grazing.

Removing rhododendron

Rhododendron can look beautiful when it flowers, but it is an introduced and invasive species. It has thrived on areas of the bog which have become drier. If left alone, it will grow and crowd out important and rare plants like sphagnum (bog moss).

Sphagnum mosses can hold more than eight times their own weight in water and help keep the bog wet and spongy.

Removing rhododendron will help to keep the peat boggy.

Cutting down trees

Trees have invaded areas of the bog which have become drier. Trees will drink 100 gallons of water a day - that’s just over two bathtubs full! This dries out the bog and stops important bog plants like sphagnum from growing.

We will be cutting and removing some trees growing on and near the bog to help encourage more sphagnum to grow.

Cutting grass

grass cutter on bog

A type of grass called Molinia or purple moor grass has taken over on some parts of the bog which have become drier as a result. This forms a dense layer and stops important plants from growing and thriving.

We will be mowing and rolling the grass with a large wetland harvester machine. This will create more open areas where important bog plants like sphagnum can grow and thrive.

Digging low level banks of peat

Machine digging low level banks of peat

We are creating low level banks of peat. This will help us plug holes and cracks appearing on some parts of the bog that have become drier.

The work will improve water levels and ensure the bog remains wet and spongy - ideal conditions for important plants like sphagnum, and for wildlife.

How the project impacts people and the economy

We have looked at how the project has impacted people and the economy.

Find out more about socio-economic impact report

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For more information about the project, please email us We'd love to hear from you!

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